Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stating the Obvious

It seems that lately all I've been hearing about is the budget crisis. And yet in all the coverage I've been reading, I haven't yet heard anything about the financial impact of all the wars the US is currently involved in. Maybe I've just been reading the wrong articles. But allow me to state the obvious here:

At some point, someone is going to have to pay for all these wars.

At every other point in American history up until now the government has always raised taxes when it went to war. This is in recognition of the basic principle that wars cost money.

The Bush administration was the first administration in history to lower taxes while fighting a war--two wars. (Even after Bush went to war, he continued to cut taxes--LINK HERE.)

We are now, by some estimates, currently involved in 4 wars (Afghanistan, the lingering presence in Iraq, Libya, and the operations in Pakistan). All of these wars have all been funded by borrowing money.

I know it's unpopular to say this, but at some point somebody is going to have to pay for these wars.

Link of the Day
The war everyone forgot

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

X-Men: First Class

(Movie Review)

Whatever else you may say about these X-Men movies, there’s no denying they’re ambitious.

It’s not enough for them to simply do the standard action-fest, choreographed fighting, and special effects extravaganza we’ve come to expect from superhero movies. They have to add pathos as well. They want us to care emotionally about their characters, and to care about the relationships these characters have with each other.
And they even attempt to address social issues like discrimination and alienation from society.

The success with which the X-Men movies accomplish their aims is debatable. (Whenever a comic book movie attempts to explore social issues, there’s a temptation for it to get overly heavy-handed or patronizing. And at various points I think the X-Men franchise has been in danger of crossing over into this territory, at least with the issue of discrimination. The theme of young people feeling alienated from society I think they pull off a bit better.)

The complex relationships in the X-Men are also ambitious as the line between enemy and ally are often blurred. You have enemies who are friends (Charles Xavier and Magneto) and allies who are often in danger of becoming enemies (the rivalry between Wolverine and Cyclops, the confrontations between Pyro and Iceman, and of course the Jean Gray saga.)

Again, how well the film makers actually handle all of these dramatic possibilities is debatable. But I don’t think it’s possible to walk out of the theater and not have a bit of admiration for the ambition of what the filmmakers were trying to pull off.

The first 3 films in the X-Men series I saw before I stared up my Movie Review Project, so I’ll start out by doing a brief recap of my impressions here, before I get into the newest film.

X-Men 1: Didn’t do much for me to be honest. Okay but not great.
X-Men 2: They absolutely nailed it with this movie. Possibly the best comic book movie ever. From this point on, I considered myself a fan of the series.
X-Men 3: You know, I actually liked this movie. I know a lot of other people didn’t like it, and I’ll probably have to re-watch it someday to give it a more intelligent review. But at the time I remember thinking it was pretty cool.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Haven’t seen this yet. Someday, maybe. But I’ve always thought Wolverine was the least interesting character in the X-Men series anyway.

Alright, so with that recap out of the way, how does this new movie fare?

Really well I thought.

Maybe I was a bit biased, because I considered myself a fan of the series, and I went in wanting it to work. But I thought they did a really good job.

The plot was a bit convoluted at first, as 3 separate story lines had to be converged into one. But actually I like plots that keep me on my toes a bit, so no problem for me here.

I thought the movie did a good job of creating dramatic suspense, particularly in the beginning. There’s one or two scenes near the opening of the movie where the scene does a good job of milking the suspense to build up to the dramatic climax, with the appropriate crescendo in the music letting you know something is about to happen.

The characters are engaging—or at least the main characters (some of the later additions to the X-Men team are just blatantly there for no other purpose than to fill the team out.)
This film continues the theme, established in the early X-Men movies, that a character’s inner demons are just as much of a threat as their outside enemies. And so we see a number of characters struggling with, and sometimes giving into, their inner demons.

The acting is quite good as well. Admittedly the two lead actors have some big shoes to fill. (In retrospect, that was quite a coup the first X-Men movies had landing such talented actors as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen). But both actors pull it off well.

So, all in all a good movie. Below are a few more observations on various issues.

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On Continuity

I know that to even broach this topic is to open ones self up to accusations of geekdom. And to the extent that any time spent contemplating a fictional universe is time not spent on chasing girls, drinking beer, or building muscles, I suppose the accusation is fair enough. (I probably should be in a bar right now winking at some cute girl instead of writing this.)

But if a viewer is to spend his time and money watching this series, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for it to be consistent. Otherwise you can’t take it seriously. And if nothing else, these X-Men movies want to be taken seriously. They want us to care about the transformations these characters undergo.

Many people on the internet are already way ahead of me on this. For a run down of many of the continuity errors introduced in X-Men, see for example this list {LINK HERE}. And for a way to explain away many of the same continuity errors, see for example this list here {LINK HERE}.

Most of the minor points don’t bother me so much. I’m more concerned with how this film fits into the overall story the filmmakers have been telling.

The previous X-Men films have already established that Professor Xavier, and Magneto, despite being enemies also have a continuing friendship, and it’s implied that they have a long history. Exactly what this history was is mostly left up to the imagination of the viewer, and perhaps it was more interesting when it was vaguely defined. From what was said in the previous movies, I had always imagined this friendship had carried on over a period of several years. In this movie we get only a period of several months before they have their split.

I’m not sure this brief friendship lasting only a few months would be quite enough to sustain the admiration and mutual respect they seem to have for each other 40 years later in the original X-Men movies. But this is somewhat open to interpretation.

Actually, according to this movie, the person Charles Xavier really does have a long history with, and deep affection for, is not Magneto, but Mystique, who we find out is his adopted sister, and who he is obviously very fond of (and she of him). Therefore this movie does a better job of setting up a complicated relationship between Xavier and Mystique than it does between Xavier and Magneto. And yet this relationship is totally absent from the first 3 movies.

I’m somewhat torn about this, because on the one hand the Mystique we get in this movie is much more interesting and developed. But it will, I fear, ruin the series for anyone trying to watch them chronologically.  If you were to watch this prequel movie right before watching the rest of the X-Men series, the relationship between professor Xavier and Mystique would make no sense.

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On the 60s setting

For a summer block-buster superhero movie, the choice of a retro setting is pretty unique. The normal trend is for Hollywood to take old comic book superheroes, and try to modernize them as much as possible. This movie takes characters established in the public mind by recent movies, and takes them back to the 1960s. It’s unusual, but anything different is good, and this is a pleasant change of pace from the usual superhero movie.

Unfortunately the film makers don’t take full advantage of the retro-setting. If they had made a bit of an effort, they could totally have gone the route of “Mad Men” and worked really hard to recreate the period with the clothing, the hair styles and the music of the early 60s.
What we get instead is a partial effort. Every now and again a character will say “daddy-O” or “groovy”. Some of the clothing looks a bit retro-ish, but even here the filmmakers at times seem to be confusing the Kennedy years with the 1970s.
Many of the hair styles look much more modern than retro, particularly with the new young X-men recruits. (I suspect because somewhere in the studio hierarchy, marketability won out against period authenticity, and the studio wanted good-looking young stars sporting fashionable modern haircuts on all their advertisements.)
It’s a minor quibble, admittedly. It didn’t spoil the movie for me, but I thought it would have been a lot cooler if they had gone to more effort to create more of an atmosphere.

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On the Cuban Missile Crisis:

The Cuban Missile Crisis, like many events in American history, has developed a sort of mythology that bears almost no relationship to the actual facts of what happened. The version I learned at school was that the Soviet Union unilaterally breaking the peace by putting missiles in Cuba. Kennedy was forced against his will into a situation where he had to bring the world to the brink of nuclear war, and fortunately his great leadership caused the Soviets to back down.

What was never told to me in school was that the US had missiles stationed in Turkey, aimed at the Soviet Union, which were actually closer to the Soviet Union than their missiles in Cuba were to us. And so when the US complained about missiles in Cuba, the Soviet Union (rightly) pointed out that this was completely hypocritical. They then offered to remove their missiles from Cuba if the US would agree to remove their missiles from Turkey.

Privately, the US government acknowledged that the Soviets had a legitimate point. But it was felt that if the US was the first to remove their missiles, it would look like Kennedy was caving in to Soviet pressure, and would endanger his re-election prospects. And so for this our government brought us to the edge of a nuclear holocaust.

It is very rare that this side of the story is ever acknowledged by the US media. You might recall that Kevin Costner movie that came out about 10 years ago “13 Days” (W) in which they spent the whole movie on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and never once acknowledged that we had missiles in Turkey, or that Kennedy could have ended the whole crisis at any time by simply pulling our own missiles out of Turkey.

I fully expected this movie to take to the same view.
Imagine my surprise, then, when X-Men: First Class goes out of its way to set up that the US government first created the crisis by placing missiles in Turkey. (Granted in the world of X-Men, it is evil mutants who are blackmailing the US army to do it, but still an acknowledgment nonetheless.)

So, the movie gets an extra point from me for this little piece of historical accuracy.
(Sad though that we have to go to X-Men movies for historical accuracy.)

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One last, final thought before I finally lay this review to rest:

I read another review of this movie I want to respond to briefly.

Yeah, I know. It’s a losing battle to try and respond to everything on the Internet. But just indulge me in this.

The review is from Slate.com
I don't necessarily want to be the guy who tries to hang a discount-store T.S. Eliot essay about the Death of Culture on yet another mediocre Hollywood sequel, but there's something a little depressing about all the hype and excitement surrounding "X-Men: First Class," the new Marvel-Fox product that's expected to be among the summer's biggest hits. Are zillions of people genuinely psyched about an Anakin Skywalker-style back story prequel to a comics-based movie franchise that almost everyone agrees had run out of juice after four installments? (Just from inspecting cast lists and plot synopses, I can't even tell you for sure whether I've seen all of them.) And if so, why?
Oh, OK, I know why. I'm just playing Socratic idiot. It's summertime in spirit if not in fact, and people are covered in beer and bug-juice and have collectively lowered their expectations. They've convinced themselves that they want to see a big, exciting adventure with cool guys and pretty girls and maybe the faintest hint of moral significance but not much resemblance to real life. I suppose a ridiculous yarn about how a group of superhuman genetic mutants in silly costumes intervene to resolve the 1963 Cuban missile crisis (after starting it in the first place) fits the bill, somewhat. But I'm pretty sure that those who are claiming that "X-Men: First Class" is actually good are engaged in the kind of brainwashed magical thinking that goes along with a culture where the entire media and most of the public have to behave like savvy insiders all the time. This is a movie that definitely could have been worse. (Put that on your poster!) It looks good and has some nice acting moments; as a friend of mine used to say about poetry readings, it's better than some TV. If it makes a butt-load of money, all of us parasites on the sweaty underbelly of the film industry are hypothetically better off, so we might as well like it.


And it continues on in that same patronizing tone for several more paragraphs.

This writer’s argument would be helped somewhat if he could point to what heights our culture has fallen from. Was it in the 90s, when the Batman franchise and the Matrix movies were top box office draws? Or in the 80s with Return of the Jedi and Tron? Or the 70s with the Superman movie and the Planet of the Apes franchise? Or the 60s with the Adam West Batman movie? Or the 50s, with “The Beginning of the End” and the Tarzan movies? Or the 40s, with the Flash Gordon movie serials?

You get the idea, and can probably add your own examples as well as I can. The point is that every generation has their high brow art, and their low brow entertainment, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve had movies based on comic book characters since the 1940s, and will likely continue to have them for many years to come.

The way to effectively critique these movies is not to get into a snobbish fit about the fact that comic book movies are once again dominating the box office, but to compare these movies against their genre. In that respect, I think you could make the argument that these X-Men movies have shown that the comic book movie genre is expanding the range of themes it is willing to take on, and thus represents a sign that the culture is getting more intelligent, not less.

In the same vein, Allen Ginsburg once claimed that The Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby” represented a cultural high point. He didn’t argue it was a cultural high point because The Beatles handled themes of alienation better than any poet ever before them, but because these themes were being attempted by a bubble gum pop band at the height of their fame.

In the same way, “X-Men: First Class” may not be high art, but I don’t think its popularity is any indication that our culture has gone down the tubes.

Link of the Day
Stability, a cold code word with US

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Roots of French Imperialism in Eastern Asia by John F. Cady

(Book Review)

Every schoolchild knows that the about the French colonial legacy in Indochina. But how exactly did the French get over there in the first place? Given the fact that the British dominated the sea lanes of the 19th Century, and given the fact that 19th Century France was notoriously - politically - unstable, how did the French find time to set up an empire in Eastern Asia?

Well, if these questions have ever kept you up at night wondering, then this is the book for you.

This book was published way back in 1954. (Ironically enough, the same year that the French would lose their empire in Indochina, although I think that’s just by coincidence. The author says he began his research for the book back in 1938.)

It is, as you would expect of an academic history book from this era, a bit dry and dull reading in parts. It’s not badly written, but it’s not written for the general public. The author is clearly more interested in filling in a gap in the historical research than he is in creating the next bestseller.

It’s also one of those academic books that is littered with footnotes. There’s not a single page that doesn’t have several footnotes at the bottom.
(In my humble opinion most of the footnotes should have been integrated into the text. It’s a bit disorientating to constantly have to refer down to the bottom of the page, and a lot of the information contained in the footnotes seems to be important, so I’m not sure why it is buried at the bottom of the page. But then I’m no expert on academic writing conventions.)

The only reason you would subject yourself to this book is if you were interested in its subject material. And as it happens, I was. Having moved to Indochina, I decided I wanted to fill in this gap in my historical knowledge and learn a bit more about why the French had been in this area to begin with.

All that being said, some sections of this book are more interesting than others. The political sections I thought were fairly interesting. I enjoyed reading Cade’s description of the various political factions during the Orleanist Monarchy, or of the conflict between Liberal Catholicism and Conservative Catholicism, or how Louis Napoleon’s need to gain political support among the Catholics would lead him to undertake ventures to safeguard Catholic missionaries in Asia (which in turn would be the start of French Imperialism in that region).

In contrast, some of the chapters describing the long slow back and forth diplomacy between the Chinese and French diplomats are not so interesting. But I sucked it up and kept reading anyway.

As the title implies, the book only looks at the roots of French Imperialism in Eastern Asia. It describes the French policies leading up to the conquest of Vietnam in the 1880s, but stops short of actually describing the conquest itself. To find out how the French actually gained control and ruled in Indochina, I suppose I’m going to have to turn to other books on my reading list. But this book does a good job of describing all the developments leading up to the French acquisition of Indochina.

The author posits two duel reasons for French imperialism in Asia. One is the need to enhance French prestige, especially in light of the growing British Empire in Asia. The second is agitation by French Catholic missionaries to establish pro-Christian regimes in Asia.

Napoleon III, clearly aware of how fragile his legitimacy was, did all he could to court Catholic support as a way to hang onto power. And that lead him to attempt to set up Catholic empires in Mexico and Vietnam.

The bulk of the book doesn’t actually deal with Indochina, but with the French in China. (Imperialism in Indochina is presented almost as an afterthought when the French Imperial ambitions in China were thwarted.)

The French were competing with other Western powers for influence in China, and in order to tell the whole story there are some chapters were Cade feels it necessary to spend as much time talking about the British, American and Russian diplomats in China as he does the French.

In particular, the French rivalry (and at times entente) with Britain make up much of the book. Cade spends a whole chapter describing the diplomatic events that lead Britain and France to form a joint alliance during “The Arrow War.”

[This book, which focuses heavily on the European reaction to the Taiping rebellion, and also on the Anglo-French expedition to Peking, covers most of the historical events dramatized in “Flashman and the Dragon”, which I just finished recently. Had I read this book first, I probably would have been able to give “Flashman and the Dragon” a more intelligent review. On the other hand, sometimes it’s more interesting to read the historical novel first, and then once your interest has already been aroused later go back and read the real history afterward.]

************************************************************
Various stray observations:

Interesting to think that at the time the author was writing (1954), the American War in Vietnam had not yet actually begun, and so the subject matter had not yet acquired the polarizing connotations that it would have ever since.
There are a few passages in this book however which eerily seem to foreshadow the American involvement.

For example, when trying to persuade the French government to occupy Vietnam, the Catholic missionaries proclaimed that the Vietnamese people actually wanted the French to invade them and liberate them from their oppressive government.

Abbe Huc, a former Lazarist missionary…had written and spoken volubly on the subject, finally gaining a hearing at court. In a secret memorandum prepared for Louis Napoleon in January, 1857 Huc argued that….The suffering Annamite [Vietnamese] population would receive the French as liberators and benefactors, and only a short time would be required to make them entirely Catholic,” (page 178-179).

Napoleon III actually takes the bait and invades Vietnam, only to find out that the Vietnamese desire to be invaded by the French had been greatly exaggerated. The French army encounters fierce resistance, no native support, and suffers heavy losses.

And another passage which seems prescient of American involvement appears.

During these years [the 1860s], Saigon was a prestige liability for the Emperor [Napoleon III] rather than an asset. One informed nationalist spokesman in 1864 levelled a trenchant attack against the whole Indo-China venture on the ground that it had not been thought out in advance in terms of defined objectives and the difficulties and sacrifices entailed,” (p.277).

[I suppose it would probably be all too obvious to point out how these passages also relate to the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars.]

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Unfortunately one does not emerge from this book with a very positive view of Christian missionaries. The 19th century Catholic missionaries seemed to have been unable to separate their evangelizing mission from their belief in imperialism.

This history presents the Catholic missionaries as actively driving imperialism. The missionaries lobbied the French government to provide them with protection in countries which were hostile to Christianity, such as China, Korea and Vietnam. And the missionaries would encourage the French government to invade and set up French protectorates in all of these areas. In the cases of Korea and Vietnam, missionaries who had been in the country evangelizing would take advantage of their presence inside the country to provide the French military information about the country’s internal defenses, and advice about the best route to take on an invasion.
In the case of Korea, this advice was ignored. But in Vietnam, the first joint French-Spanish invasion of the country was a result of missionary lobbying and missionary advice.

One would hope that this era of Christian history is now over. But there’s no denying that Christian missionaries have had a very mixed historical track record. And this history is no doubt better remembered by the colonized countries than by the colonizers.

I had at least one Calvin professor who implied that China’s reluctance to allow foreign missionaries into the country was in part based on this history legacy, and that the aggressive pushing by some evangelical groups to enter China showed an insensitivity to this legacy.
It’s worth remembering the next time you see one of those church bulletins complaining about how China (or Vietnam) is curtailing missionary activity again.

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This book has long been out of print, but in this day and age you can find anything you’re looking for on Amazon. And, if you don’t mind reading things off of a computer screen, the whole text is also available online [LINK HERE].

Link of the Day
Q&A with Noam Chomsky

Monday, July 11, 2011

To Kill a Tsar by Andrew Williams

(Book Review)

I’m a big fan of historical novels. But there’s no denying the success rate of the genre is low. Many historians don’t make good novelists, and many novelists don’t make good historians.

This book gets full marks for the history, but the fiction parts of it are weak.

The historical events around which this book is based are absolutely fascinating. In 19th Century Russia, radicals, frustrated with the slow pace of reform, embarked on a campaign of terrorism against the government. Foremost among these groups was “The People’s Will.”

It was the contention of The People’s Will that by 1879 peaceful protest had demonstrably failed and that change was only possible through direct terrorist action. The party was socialist, but democratic in character, committed to an elected assembly, freedom of speech and religious worship,” (from the Author’s afterward, p. 430).

Several government officials were gunned down in the street, but their primary target was Tsar Alexander II.

The elaborate schemes that The People’s Will concocted to assassinate Tsar Alexander II are fascinating. The sheer luck by which Tsar Alexander II survived most of them is equally fascinating (he appears to have had more lives than a cat.)

The People’s Will send a gunman to shoot Alexander II. The gunman misses.
The People’s Will tunnel under the railway, and set off a bomb just at the precise moment that Tsar Alexander II’s train car is passing over. The Tsar survives because he switched train cars at the last minute.
The People’s Will plant a bomb in the Tsar’s Winter Palace, and blow up half the palace during dinner time. Alexander II survives because he was late to dinner.

Eventually they do succeed in assassinating Alexander II by ambushing his carriage procession, first throwing grenades to stop his carriage, and then hurling a bomb at his feet once he steps out of his carriage.

(Given the title of the book, I trust I’m not spoiling anything by revealing this.)

Throughout the 2 years that The People’s Will were active, they were constantly in a game of cat and mouse with the Russian police. For most of this period they were able to stay one step ahead of the police because they had a well placed double agent among the police, who would feed them vital information about the police investigations.

All of this proves the old saying that the truth is always stranger than fiction. (A co-worker of mine once said, “The thing I love about history is that it’s always so much more interesting than fiction. The things that happen in history—you couldn’t make that stuff up if you tried.”)

Andrew Williams has certainly chosen an interesting subject matter to explore. I’m not sure his novel entirely takes advantage of the story’s dramatic possibilities, but I give him credit for choosing his subject material well.

As for the literary aspects of this book:

On the plus side, one of the better decisions Williams makes is to dramatize both sides of the story. We see the activities of The People’s Will, but almost equal time is given to the police investigation. Through the dramatization of real historical police figures like Count von Plehve and criminal investigator Dobrshinsky, the reader gets to see the investigation methods as well as their interrogation procedures of 19th century political police. (Interestingly enough, even though Tsarist Russia was a totalitarian state, the criminal investigator didn’t use torture to extract information, but instead first won the trust of the prisoners, and then afterward was able to extract information from them.) From the police side, we also see their frustrations in trying to track down the mole. They know somehow information from the police office is getting out to the People’s Will, but they don’t know who is doing it.

Now onto the negatives:
When writing historical fiction, I think it’s a good rule of thumb for the author to assume that the actual historical figures are always much more interesting than any fictional characters he can create. Williams, unfortunately, does not follow this rule. The bulk of the book is therefore consumed by the story of a fictional romance between the fictional young English doctor Frederick Hadfield and the fictional revolutionary Anna Kovalenko. I didn’t find either of them particularly interesting as characters, and I didn’t care about their romance at all.

It’s a pity because the focus on the fictional Hadfield and Anna pushes all the much more interesting real historical figures and events into the background. And it’s particularly a pity because neither of them are necessary to the narrative.
(With some historical fiction, the historical events that the author is trying to dramatize are disparate enough that composite fictional characters are needed to tie everything together into one story. But The People’s Will appears to have been such a small tightly knit group that their story could easily have been told without inventing extra characters.)

Anna Kovalenko in particular I found to be an annoying heroine, because she is one of those cliché fictional heroines who is always described as being fierce, determined, outspoken and angry, but with a hidden soft romantic side.

Often in his effort to emphasize Anna’s fierce and angry personality, Williams’ prose will become repetitive.
For example, on page 125, Anna encounters 3 suspicious looking men who are barring her way down the street.

“My friend likes you, love,” the first man said. His hand was still open in front of her.
“Then he won’t mind stepping out of my way, will he?” [said Anna.] This time there was steel in her voice. She was angry. Who were these men to accost a woman at night?


Ideally, I think Williams should have let the situation and the dialogue stand by itself, without having to constantly remind the reader how fierce and angry Anna can be. But unfortunately this is all too typical of his writing style. And it gets even worse a little further down the same page…

“Murderers!” And she kicked out blindly at the first man rising to his feet. Angry, she was so angry, grinding her teeth with anger.

[Sigh. Really, where were the editors? Did anyone proof read this book before publication?]

And this kind of one-note characterization is unfortunately true of how many of the characters in this book are written. We get very little life like or 3 dimensional characters in this book. Instead the revolutionaries are mostly card board cut outs who constantly talk in clichés, and who will suddenly launch into political speeches at dinner parties with no preamble.

Granted, it is difficult to fully bring these sort of people to life in fiction. These people really were political zealots in real life, and I think it is all too easy to just write them off as one note characters in fiction. This is perhaps why revolutionary movements make very interesting history, but they seldom make good fiction. Very few authors can actually pull it off: Victor Hugo was perhaps one of the few who could do it well. And Leo Tolstoy (although not writing about a revolutionary period per se, I think Tolstoy did a very good job of showing how a character’s political obsessions are also intertwined with their other emotional needs.)

Final verdict: If you’re a fellow history nerd, I think there’s enough interesting history in this book for me to give it a cautious recommendation in spite of its literary flaws. If you’re not a history buff, don’t bother.

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A search on Amazon reveals that there is another book with the same title on the same topic published the same year, and that also appears to be a historical novel: "To Kill a Tsar" by G.K. George (A).
This raises the following questions:
1). What gives? Did someone in the publishing industry decide that this was the year when everyone would suddenly become interested in reading historical novels about the assassination of Tsar Alexander II?
2). Don’t the publishers usually watch out to make sure this kind of title confusion doesn’t happen?
3). How do the two books compare to each other? At the moment I can’t say, but I might someday be interested in tracking down and reading this other version.

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For more on “The People’s Will” don’t forget about this BBC radio program. [Tsar Alexander II's assassination: LINK HERE]

Link of the Day
"The West Is Terrified of Arabic Democracies"